We all know that exercise has a number of positive effects on the body and can help us get into shape. But what affect does a workout have on our mental wellbeing?
The benefits of exercise go beyond your aerobic ability and gaining muscle. Although exercise can help improve your physique, trim your waistline and is believed to even prolong your life; for many people, this isn’t what motivates them to stay active.
Many people exercise regularly due to the enormous sense of wellbeing it brings. Frequent gym goers and outdoor runners often report feeling more energetic, mentally sharper, feel more positive throughout the day and sleep better due to exercise.
Exercise has many positive benefits to your mental wellbeing. When you exercise your body releases stress relieving and mood boosting endorphins both during and after your work out. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. In addition, endorphins trigger that positive feeling in the body. That feeling known as a “runner’s high” can be accompanied by a generally more positive and energised outlook on life.
Psychological and emotional benefits of exercise
· Boost confidence: Scientists also believe that exercise can improve wellbeing as it can bring about a greater sense of self-esteem and self-control, resulting in the ability to rise to your challenges and help tackle obstacles.
· Social interaction: Regular exercise and physical activity may provide you with opportunities to meet and socialise with others. Simple positive exchanges such as a smile when greeting someone at your exercise class can have a positive impact on your mood.
· Healthy coping method: Actively doing something positive to combat feelings of depression and anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to improve your mood by using drugs and alcohol can often lead to worse consequences.
How to reap the mental health benefits of exercise?
Our demanding modern day life-styles and careers can often leave us with little time for daily exercise. However, you do not need to devote hours out of your busy day to go to the gym, sweat buckets or run impossible miles to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, the NHS recommends just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to keep healthy. This may sound like a lot but it is much more manageable than you may think.
For example, two 30 minute runs and a 30-minute brisk walk would equate to your weekly recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity by the NHS. If you are really strapped for time, you can add small parts of activity throughout your day, like going for a short walk during your lunch break, cycling to and from work, or walking the dog in the evenings. Other activities you can try that require moderate effort:
· Mowing the lawn
· Water sports
The information in these pages is intended as general advice only. If you or your family members require medical advice or have any medical concerns, please contact your GP.